The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The crowd is ecstatic, and applauds for several minutes. Jurgis is deeply stirred by the socialist message, and feels as if "a new man had been born" inside of him. As the crowd begins to disperse, however, he is reminded of his real-world anxieties, and he approaches the speaker to learn more about the movement and offer to help. The orator is worn out from his speech, but he introduces Jurgis to Comrade Ostrinski.
The socialist movement has given Jurgis a new lease on life. The endless disheartenment capitalism has caused him has been replaced by a long-lost motivation to act. As a "tramp" when he would fight against insults he would destroy—knocking over the farmer's peach trees. Now he wants to help, to build something new and better.
Themes
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
Ostrinski, a Lithuanian-speaking Pole, exchanges life stories with Jurgis, and offers Jurgis a spot to sleep on his kitchen floor. At Ostrinski's home, the man explains basic Socialism to Jurgis: capitalists oppress the working class—the "proletariat"—by forcing them to compete against one another in a race to accept the lowest wages. Unless workers become "class conscious," they will be unable to leverage themselves into higher pay—they will be stuck in what Ostrinski calls "wage slavery."
As Jurgis is educated in the formal tenets of socialism, he becomes enlightened and increasingly aware of the economic and social structures and mechanisms that have forced him into the misery that has befallen him and his family.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
Jurgis learns that Ostrinski fought for Socialism in Europe before coming to America. Though the movement had taken off in Europe, he was met with scorn in the U.S., because many Americans mistakenly believe political liberty was enough to overcome wage slavery. However, the American movement is burgeoning, and Ostrinski tells an entranced Jurgis that he has joined at an exciting time. Jurgis marvels at Ostrinski's wisdom and determination.
The more knowledge Jurgis acquires, the more he respects the socialist movement and its goals. Ostrinski's helpfulness stands in stark contrast with the misdirection and confusion on which the corrupt capitalism of Chicago in the novel relies.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Labor Rights and Socialism Theme Icon
Jurgis comes to understand that the Chicago Beef Trust is the vilest embodiment of capitalist greed. Furthermore, the packers dominate the government, and are expanding into other industries as well. Socialism's role is to educate the laborers in how to take control of this out-of-control monstrosity, and imagining the proletariat's success keeps Jurgis awake with giddiness.
For perhaps the first time since his arrival in the United States, Jurgis is ideologically inspired. Socialism has filled an intellectual void that capitalism carved into Jurgis, and now that he understands the extent of the mistreatment he suffers, he is eager to help alter it.
Themes
The Dehumanizing Evils of Capitalism Theme Icon
Family, Masculinity, and Individualism Theme Icon
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